Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Devlin, Sandy D.

Committee Member

Coffey, Kenneth

Committee Member

Michele, McDonnall

Committee Member

Franz, Dana

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Special Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore self-determination in daily life and external programs for youth with visual impairments. To achieve this, the researcher explored three areas that contribute to the development of self-determination based on Wehmeyer’s Functional Theory of Self-determination: capacity, opportunities, and support. All participants in this study participated in Cane Quest, an external program specifically designed for youth with visual impairments. Cane Quest is a long cane competition for youth with visual impairments. These youth independently complete on a route using their orientation and mobility skills while navigating through complex environments such as residential areas, commercial areas, stores, buses, and a college campus. Data were collected through individual interviews, focus group sessions, and document collection. The phenomenological approach was used to analyze the data. Results suggest that youth with visual impairments are facing barriers to capacity, opportunities, and appropriate support in their daily lives. The finding also identified that external programs, like Cane Quest, can provide opportunities and appropriate support for youth with visual impairments to practice and develop self-determination skills. External programs, such as Cane Quest, can be beneficial for youth with visual impairments by filling in some of the gaps that may be occurring in their daily lives.